Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Written by: Claire Legrand
Release Date: September 30th 2014
Pages: 464, Hardcover
Series: Standalone
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The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

 

LetsTalk

Winterspell is a high fantasy retelling of The Nutcracker, that much is obvious. Now, I’m not exactly one for the ballet, I’ve watched it, on video, in the past, but I’ve haven’t watched it recently (Mostly because I only owned it on VHS and haven’t gotten around to getting it on DVD) but even for someone who knows the story in passing I could absolutely adore the way Legrand worked the Nutcracker into Winterspell. She took her own twists on Godfather Drosselmeyer, the nutcracker, and even Clara herself.

One of the things I loved about this book was the pace. Often times I kept thinking “How is this going to be a standalone? How is Legrand going to do wrap up everything that needs wrapped up by the end?” But it happened. Trust me, it happens. The book flows at this pace that just keeps you turning pages and it’s only when you realize how far you’ve come do you realize how much plot has happened, it just feels that natural.

Another thing I adored about Winterspell was watching Clara change and evolve. I don’t want to give anything away here but watching her growth, while you sort of know it’s going to happen from the beginning, Legrand takes it in some directions that are very interesting, and crazy cool.

Didn'tWork

Winterspell had one moment, I don’t want to spoil it, but Nicholas makes a rash choice, based on old thoughts. Which works because it proves that he hasn’t changed overnight, but it seemed like he had been making steps forward, and this choice felt like five steps back at an instant.

At the start Clara’s reaction to Nicholas’s choice is perfect, and it sets up a large portion of the book, it sets up a lot of her character arc. However when things come around, when Clara and Nicholas are able to talk about this thing (I’m being specifically vague because it’s quite a large spoiler. Once you’ve read the book you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about, promise) it seems like the downfall of it wasn’t as talked out as I would’ve liked. I would’ve liked to see more the forgiveness could’ve been something more than it was, that’s all.

DidWork

One of my favorite things about this book. First it was an insta-love that not only worked, it made sense. Clara had fallen in love telling Nicholas her entire life, Nicholas had listened and adored her the whole time. So the fact that they fell in love quickly not only worked, it just made sense the two were half in love already when suddenly things are made real.

Another thing I have to mention here (again I’m going to try to be vague to avoid spoilers) there is a quite a bit where this goes a little love triangle-y. Reading it you understand that it’s not truly a love triangle, because it is simply so out of this world. However, it is a girl-girl relationship. Never once is that brought up in the book. Never once is the reason they can’t be in love “She’s a girl, I’m a girl.” that just simply isn’t mentioned. There are many reasons why the relationship won’t work, and it is discussed at length why they can’t work as a couple. But gender isn’t one of those reasons. I loved and adored that Legrand treated their relationship like that.

Pickup

With Christmas right around the corner I absolutely suggest picking this book up! It’s a perfect book to read around the Christmas tree. If you decide to pick it up sooner rather than later you can join in our amazing live tweeting #YAReadAlong

Sondra 

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